Ants are pests that most homeowners don’t want to deal with, but these pesky insects tend to make their way into homes in search of food and water sources. If you spot ants in your house, take a closer look at their body shape. Every type of ant has elbow-shaped antennae and a narrower waist, so if you don’t spot these two characteristics, the insect you’re looking at is not an ant. This guide will help you figure out what type of ants they are and how to get rid of them properly.

Carpenter Ants

Image via Flickr by sanchom

One of the most common species of ants throughout the United States is the carpenter ant. They frequently live in cool, damp climates, which makes them more common the northern parts of the country. Their bodies are reddish-black in color and measure just over 1/2 inch in size. Spotting them in your home is very concerning because they can cause significant structural damage. Carpenter ants get their name from their habit of building nests in various sources of wood, often entering buildings through small holes drilled for wires.

Red Fire Ants

Fire ants are especially common in the southeastern part of the U.S. and eastern Texas. The worker ants can vary widely in size, making it more difficult to identify them. The most obvious characteristic is their dark red coloring. Fire ants are worrisome, especially when they’re in your home or backyard, because they respond aggressively to disturbance of their nests. The sting of a fire ant can be very painful, especially if it happens to a child. Fire ants build mounds of dirt and cover any access point holes.

They typically live outdoors, although they come inside to find food and water, especially in the late summer when the temperatures are high.

Caribbean Crazy Ant

The name of this ant species comes from the erratic, jerky way the worker ants run when looking for food. They adapt well to both dry and humid areas, so they live all over the country. This type of ant is identifiable by color as well as its movement, since it has a gray sheen over the top of their black or brown bodies.

Caribbean crazy ants aren’t dangerous because they don’t bite or sting, but they can quickly become a nuisance when they come into your home to look for food. This type of ant tends to come indoors in the fall, especially after a rainstorm. They may form nests beneath carpeting or other flooring materials.

Argentine Ants

Something unique about this type of ant is that it excretes a musty odor when you crush it. You can identify Argentine ants by their small size. They are dark brown in color and measure between 1/16 and ¼ of an inch in length. This ant species live in wet environments where they have steady access to a food source. While they aren’t dangerous, they can contaminate your food, so do your best to keep them out of the kitchen.

Learning more about the ants in and around your home can help you determine what to do when you spot them.